Thursday, 23 June 2011
Here is the other side of the church, the side that people know better. This is where Our Lady appeared to some dumb-founded inhabitants of Knock, Co Mayo, on 21st August 1879. We visited it on our Mayo holiday: it was in fact the reason we decided to come up there in the first place.
This gable-end is one of the parts of Knock that I love. There is a real sense of something amazing in this quiet spot, which for some reason seems almost deserted whenever I visit. In my experience, people tend to rush past it on the way to the Basilica, yet to me it is a far more attractive place. I see the basilica as just a functional place which can hold a lot of people. Lee likened it to a mart in design, which is bang on. Another part of Knock that I love is the Reconciliation Chapel. It always feels inviting and friendly, which aren't two adjectives that normally come to mind when I think of confession. On this visit, the two older lads were very good as they waited in turn for Lee and I, but I had to bring the Scroonk in with me in the sling and he was a bit busy, to say the least!
After that, the lads went off with Lee for some well-deserved messing in the playground while I went to yet another of my favourite parts of Knock: the bookshop. I could really spend hours there, and that's just in the children's section which has so many appealing books. I got some great books for Roo to help explain what's happening in Mass and some lift-the-flap Bible stories for Poonch. Then I went looking for a 'penny catechism' only to find it next to YOUCAT , which I was very excited about. It is such a great book: even apart from its contents, it is very attractive to look at and handle, with a friendly, straight-forward and approachable tone and a wonderful foreword from the Holy Father.
It was a welcome change not to have to face into a three-hour plus drive back home and instead we headed back to the hotel and our final night there. All together now: aaaaahhhhh!
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
We woke up for our first proper day of holiday and off we toddled to the nearby town of Newport to collect our snazzy electric bikes.
We had been really excited about this part of our holiday because it involved us, bikes, fresh air, nice scenery and exercise, but as Roo would say, not too much. Lee and I aren't as fit as we'd like to be, so when we heard that we could cycle about with the lads in tow with the help of an electric motor, we thought yippee! Roo wasn't too sure though- he didn't like the sound of the trailers that he and de bruvvers were going to be travelling in.
Nonetheless, we met Paul from Electric Escapes at Clew Bay Cycles and collected our bikes. And so began the pirate connections: my bike was called Grace, as in Grace O'Malley, the famous female pirate of Mayo, appropriate, as we had chosen the Pirate Queen tour. Roo settled quickly into his trailer with the Scroonk next to him, while initially Poonch was a bit nervous on his ownio behind me.
And we were off! The weather was very clement: warm and dry, with a gentle breeze to prevent us getting too hot from our exertions. And the scenery was, well take a look at this....
Mostly very peaceful and relaxing: no cars speeding by to scare the bejayny out of us. We weren't completely alone of course:
And we did meet some people too. A broad mix of young families, retired couples and young, fit types who seemed to me to be regular users of the cycleway. All sharing a friendly 'hello'. What a very civilised and cheery way to spend the day! And what a fantastic amenity to have in the area: a safe, superbly-maintained track to walk or cycle along. Not just for tourists, but local residents too. Aaaahh, if only there were more trails like this around the country. My Dad would have loved it.
It wasn't all plain sailing for me though. As the initial euphoria/novelty wore off, I realised I should have asked someone to adjust my saddle before we started as my botty wasn't feeling too happy towards the end. Overall though, we did really well, considering the last time we biked regularly was over 10 years ago in college.
And the lads had a great time: the first thing Roo said the following morning was, 'Are we going cycling again today?' So there you go, highly recommended.
Monday, 20 June 2011
We started the long drive up to Mayo after collecting Roo from his first day at 'big' school: he got on ok and we met some very nice parents and teachers too. We had our customary pitstop in Clarenbridge at the Provident Market Kitchen cafe, which is always tasty.
We took a slight diversion in Galway at Little Dreamers, a lovely shop for children's stuff, to pick up a new addition to the family (pictured). After that the road became narrow and the countryside boggy as we started on the last leg of the journey. Driving through the pretty town of Westport, we decided we would have to return later in the week for a browse. As we got closer to Mulranny, we noticed bits of newly refurbished cycleway running closeby the road and guessed it must be the Great Western Greenway. It looked very well made and we couldn't wait for the chance to cycle it the next day.
Eventually, we reached our home for the next few nights: Mulranny Park Hotel. This old railway hotel was built long before the Celtic Tiger's glut of ghost hotels. Our room was surprisingly spacious (as we opened the door, we all gasped at its size) with gracious sash windows and high ceilings. Some of the views from the hotel were like landscape paintings and the window tables in the restaurant were much sought after. Well, more popular than the ones near our motley little crew anyway!
Saturday, 18 June 2011
Well, I was going to post some more pictures from our recent trip, but my phone suddenly broke down today (possibly caused by a grouchy Scroonk) so it will have to wait until I can get it repaired (I hope)...
We were in Mayo for a few days and it was lovely. The weather was very friendly to us so we got loads of fresh air and the lads (and us) were happily exhausted at the end of each day from cycling, swimming, pedalo-ing, fluming and bouncy castl-ing. More info to follow.
Lee's time-off continues so today we found ourselves in Limerick at the Milk Market. Then my broken phone caused us to stumble across the pop-up Etsy shop on Catherine Street on its last day. Poonch fell asleep so I had a lovely browse through handmade cards, crochet, jewellery and the like before settling on some cute felt brooches from Bettyoctopus and earrings from Silver Soul Design.
We love shopping at the market and getting to know the people who make the things we like. Vi's Sunflower Bakery is one of our favourites: when I eat her creations I always wish I could bake like her. Maybe she does classes....